Contracts have to be fulfilled - that is an iron principle of every business activity and of course also in politics.

Anything else inevitably leads to chaos or, even worse, open confrontation.

But there are always actors who do not intend to keep agreements from the outset.

For example Adolf Hitler.

He never intended to heed the Munich Agreement to which his ally Benito Mussolini had urged him on the night of September 29-30, 1938.

Because Hitler actually didn't just want to incorporate the Sudetenland into the “Greater German Reich” - he wanted to occupy all of Bohemia and Moravia.

Or, if necessary, conquer.

Group picture at the Munich Agreement in 1938

Source: picture alliance / arkivi

Just three weeks after the invasion of the areas separated from Czechoslovakia, Hitler issued a "directive" on the subject of "dealing with the rest of Czechoslovakia".

At the beginning there was an empty formula: "It must be possible to smash the rest of the Czech Republic at any time if it were to pursue a policy hostile to Germany, for example."


But how should a country that had just forcibly lost a quarter of its population, a third of its national territory and all of its border fortifications, still “pursue” its own policy?

It was clear that this formulation was only intended to mask renewed aggression.

The Wehrmacht staff officers, who had been drafting the text for Hitler's directive since October 10, knew that too.

For example, it went on to say: "The scope of the preparations to be made by the Wehrmacht will be considerably less than for 'Green' at the time." That was the code name for the military attack on Czechoslovakia, which was the result of the Munich Agreement in the last Moment had been averted.

The leadership of the Wehrmacht in early 1939: Erich Raeder, Walther von Brauchitsch and Wilhelm Keitel (from left)

Source: Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

One week before Christmas 1938, the head of the Wehrmacht High Command, Wilhelm Keitel, added this directive: "It must be made clear to the outside that it is only a pacification operation and not a warlike enterprise."


But in order to be able to act “satisfactorily”, there had to be a conflict.

In the weeks that followed, Germany systematically fueled the long-standing conflicts between the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Hitler hoped to get an official request for help from the Slovak capital.

That would not be an “anti-German policy”, but a formal reason to intervene.

The Third Reich was now pressing for war - almost indifferently against whom.

It was during this time that attempts were made to gain Polish support for an immediate attack on the Soviet Union.

Jozef Tiso and Adolf Hitler

Source: picture-alliance / dpa

On January 27, 1939, Hitler approved the “Z-Plan” for a massive armament of the Navy.

Among other things, ten battleships, twelve ironclads, four aircraft carriers, five heavy cruisers, 158 destroyers and torpedo boats and 249 submarines were to be built.

That was far more than German shipyards could produce.


The plan violated the German-British agreement as well as the international naval agreement of London in 1936, which Germany had joined the following year.

He was thus a direct challenge to Great Britain, because the establishment of such a fleet could only be directed against the leading sea power in the world.

France, on the other hand, buckled after the Munich Agreement.

In Paris, they no longer expected to be able to contain Germany in any way in East Central Europe, and they concentrated on defending their own national borders.

Adolf Hitler in conversation with Emil Hacha

Source: picture-alliance / dpa

The British General Staff made plans for an imminent land war, always based on a German attack.

It was expected that Belgium would withstand an advance of the Wehrmacht thanks to its modern forts such as Eben Emael on the Albert Canal for two weeks and the Maginot Line even longer.

The Empire should only intervene if the neutral Netherlands were to be invaded.

Meanwhile, Hitler turned his gaze to Bohemia and Moravia.

In February 1939, more than two dozen divisions in the south-east of the Greater German Reich were concentrated - an obvious threat.

Because there were efforts in Slovakia to separate the country from the Czech Republic, the responsible military commander imposed military law.

Slovak autonomy should expressly not be affected by this.

Thereupon Berlin increased the pressure: The recently deposed Slovak Prime Minister Jozef Tiso was summoned to the capital and was supposed to sign a prepared declaration of independence for Slovakia from the Czech Republic.

Otherwise Slovakia would be divided between Hungary and Poland.

Tiso initially refused.

Emil Hacha before his departure from Berlin on March 15, 1939

Source: picture-alliance / dpa

A day later, the Czechoslovakian President Emil Hacha came to the New Reich Chancellery at his own request, which probably served its purpose here for the only time, namely to impress "smaller potentates", as Hitler's favorite architect Albert Speer gave the verbal instructions for the construction.

Hitler made Hacha, suffering from heart disease, wait for hours until late at night.

In the end, the 66-year-old had nothing to do with the “Führer”.

When Hermann Göring threatened an air raid on Prague and described its devastating consequences in color, Hacha suffered a heart attack.


At 3:55 in the morning on Wednesday, March 15, 1939, he signed a document with which he "placed the fate of the Czech people and country trustingly in the hands of the leader of the German Reich."

The second surrender after the Munich Agreement.

Wehrmacht motorcycle scouts roll through the streets of Prague

Source: Getty Images

The entry of German troops had been scheduled for days on March 15, 1939 at six in the morning.

Now, precisely at this time, a proclamation by Hitler was published in Berlin: "With that, Czechoslovakia ceased to exist."

Within three hours the vanguard reached Prague without resistance.

The Czechoslovak armed forces, which had already been completely deranged since the Munich Agreement, had no orders to defend themselves against the invaders.

They let themselves be disarmed.

In addition, the Wehrmacht had placed its few motorized units at the head of the invading army.

Tanks of the types I and II as well as half-tracks and trucks rolled preferentially towards Prague.

That made an impression, even if the mass of the Wehrmacht was on foot and with horse and cart.

Hitler in mid-March 1939 pacing an honor formation in front of Prague Castle

Source: picture-alliance / dpa

Hitler himself had not slept on the night of March 14-15, 1939.

His special train left at 7:10 a.m.

At 3 p.m. he arrived in Bohemian-Leipa in the Sudetenland, then it went on by motorcade.

Shortly before 8 p.m. Hitler arrived in Prague and took his quarters in the castle, the Hradschin.

He was the new ruler of Prague, Bohemia and Moravia.

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This article was first published on March 14, 2019.